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No inquiry into Cambridge Live losses, says council

15 February 2019

THERE WILL be no inquiry into how the failing charitable trust that operates Cambridge Corn Exchange (cap. 1,730) and Cambridge Folk Festival (14,000) built-up a loss of £750,000, says the local authority.

Cambridge Live, established by Cambridge City Council to operate the venue, festival, Cambridge Live Tickets and various arts projects has had to be bailed-out, with local taxpayers left to fund the deficit.

Liberal Democrat councillors had called upon the Labour-majority authority to back a full inquiry into the reasons that led to the crisis.

An amendment, tabled at a scrutiny committee meeting on 17 January, read, “It is important to properly understand what went wrong in Cambridge Live and in the council’s relationship with it, both as its founding sponsor and major partner and customer.”

However, the council voted against holding an inquiry.

“The decision to take Cambridge Live back under council control was agreed with the Cambridge Live board,” Cambridge City Council chief executive Antoinette Jackson tells LIVE UK.

“Our priority now is to ensure Cambridge Live has a solid platform from which to flourish, and to protect the wide-ranging arts and entertainment offering that they provide for the city.

“That is where we need to put our time and resources, and that is why the scrutiny committee that discussed the issue agreed that now was not the right time for a member inquiry.”

A report presented to the committee last June trigged a review of Cambridge Live’s finances and whether they could recover.

The process of transferring services and staff back to the council began in December and a spokesman says he hopes it will be complete by April.

The spokesman also confirmed that the £750,000 figure cannot be considered debt, as two-thirds of it relates to funding set aside and held by the council to review Cambridge Live’s business.

He adds, “That work concluded and both parties agreed that the contracted services should return back to the direct control of the council.

“The council has made an additional allocation of £250,000 to support the transition.”

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